Reimagining remote learning post Covid-19: colleges

Hear our panelists’ challenges, success and top tips for remote learning.

Reimagining remote learning post Covid-19: colleges

Colleges across the country have been shut for months now. For some, it’s been a business-critical struggle that’s impacted students, staff and employers. But for others, it’s been an opportunity to embrace remote learning and put best practice into action.

We've heard some great success stories during lockdown, so we wanted to bring some of these forward-thinking colleges together in a webinar. We invited Paul McGrail from Myerscough College and Sue Bright and Mike Blakeley from Exeter College to share their challenges, successes and top tips.

Mike Blakeley from Exeter College started the discussion by explaining the 3 main principles they implemented as soon as lockdown started.

1. Maintaining high-quality learning and delivery

It was a learning curve, but they worked with their staff to understand how different technology could be used to replace face-to-face delivery and engage with individuals remotely.

2. Good quality assessment

Mike said it was really important that reviews became as meaningful as they could be. They recognised that students were under a lot of pressure within a period of national nervousness and uncertainty, so keeping regular contact was paramount. They immediately instigated a light-touch communication strategy and shortened the amount of time between formal reviews to 6 weeks, so learners felt well connected.

3. Excellent customer service and employer engagement

They wanted to make sure employers were engaged, so within the first 2 weeks, they spoke to every employer about how they were able to support them. They wanted to make sure that employers understood that, although their doors were closed, Exeter College was well and truly open.

Mike went on to explain their biggest challenge – understanding new ways of working in a short timeframe.

Under pressure and our hands being forced, we’ve made improvements that we didn’t have the confidence to do before. This situation has created huge momentum for us to put our aspirational changes into place.”

Although some members of staff were fearful of new technology, they supported staff in the early days and after 3-4 weeks, everyone felt settled in the ‘new normal’.

Paul McGrail from Myerscough College already had virtual systems in place when lockdown started. They used the OneFile Learning Hub to create content and quizzes to support learners, and tracked progression in the scorecard and eportfolio. “It’s really suited us as everything’s in one place.”

With these systems in place, Paul then used Teams, Zooms and Whatsapp video to create hybrid virtual learning sessions that can be live streamed. This was the biggest challenge for the team, but it’s been really successful.

We've embraced technology and now use it to complete enrolments, provide health and safety checks, deliver learning, contact EPAOs and support learners through gateway. Staff were used to OneFile, so we just had to get them familiar with Teams and Zoom.”

Sue Bright went on to explain how their learners have actually embraced remote learning.

Exeter College has been using OneFile for over 10 years, and the system has really stood up to scrutiny during lockdown and has helped our learners and employers stay engaged.

Learners enjoy the extra support and new styles of learning – shorter, sharper methods like 2-minute videos or quizzes on OneFile. They’re enjoying learning.

Paul agreed. They measure learner engagement every week using OneFile and engagement has increased from 85% to 94% during Covid-19 – which is great. Progress against target has also increased 10% during lockdown, which shows just how much learners have embraced OneFile. It’s also great for employer engagement. They’re still involved in the learner journey and can see their learner progressing – whether they’re working from home or even furloughed.

A great example of employer engagement has been a level 2 golf greenkeeper EPA that was live streamed. An assessor was live streamed into a workplace 300 miles away, and an independent quality assurer logged in to assess it. It was the employer holding the camera at the other end for a 6-hour practical assessment – which shows fantastic commitment from an employer who actively wanted their apprentice to progress. They got a distinction.”

Mike Blakeley said his employers have been really engaged too. When they did encounter some barriers, they went back to their principles and asked for employer support. Employers helped by loaning equipment, completing extra welfare checks and supporting learners.

Employers are the lifeblood of what we do in apprenticeships and they really stepped up to the mark. We couldn’t ask for more.”

Both Exeter College and Myerscough College have used OneFile as the foundation of their remote delivery. Sue said that they’ve built more content and quizzes using the OneFile course builder. It’s taken a bit of time, but as tutors can send content to multiple learners and track progress online, it’s saved them loads of time in the long run.

Mike said that they’ll continue to build their remote offering after lockdown. Staff have all the tools they need, learners and employers are more engaged, and delivery is far more efficient. Remote delivery has reduced travel costs and improved processes, while maintaining high quality of learning.

In the longer term, we’ll see even better results. This situation may have forced us to think about things differently, but it’s meant that we’re offering better customer service. This will definitely carry on.”

Paul said the same. “From an efficiency and quality point of view, it makes sense to move to a system like OneFile. You can do everything from sign up, delivery and assessment in one place – it's a one stop shop.

There’s no better time for strategic change. Even if you need to use case studies from other colleges or training providers, it’s easy to show senior management how technology benefits the learner, employer, tutors and the college as a whole.


To hear all the advice our panelists had to share, watch the full webinar here.

Or to find out how you can use OneFile to deliver learning remotely, book a demo with a member of the team.

Book a demo


This article includes research and opinion sourced by OneFile at the time of publication. Things may have changed since then,
so this research is to be used at the reader's discretion. OneFile is not liable for any action taken based on this research.